Egyptian Student at HSE

Omar Shimi talks about his experience at the HSE and his social life.

Egyptian Student at HSE

Hi, can you please tell me a bit about your background and why you chose to come to study in HSE?

I am Omar Shimi, an international student from Egypt. I decided after school to study abroad for the purpose of exposure to other cultures, traditions and new experiences, mainly going out of my comfort zone. HSE is the best affordable option I found in the top universities recognized in many international agreements including in Europe.

What program did you choose and how does the program you are enrolled in align with your future aspirations?

I chose international business and management, and I am in my final year. The program aligns with my future because I am planning to work as a business analyst which is mainly related to my major now.

Now you are in the final semester of your studies, if you look back on your life at HSE, how would you summarize your experience?

So, it's an interesting story because I haven't studied in HSE for all 4 years of my academic life. I was studying first at another Russian university, Izhevsk Technical University. I have experienced different universities in Russia, and I spent two years in the previous one and two years here. The pandemic happened in the middle of the second year so the culture shocks hit mainly in my first one and half year but then after I joined HSE in the third year we switched to fully online studies. I could say that the experience for studying online was surprisingly very good at HSE. I know other friends who studied in some of the best universities in the world and weren't having the same experience as me, for them online studying was a very bad experience. Now that I am in my fourth year, I'm here in Saint Petersburg and I'm studying in the university. It's also a great experience totally different from other Russian universities. It is more efficient, more international, and everyone here is so friendly and helpful I could say if you show that you are friendly and willing to get involved, people are so welcoming.

Do you regret joining HSE and how do you see this will help in your future?

So, no regrets at all for joining HSE. For my future it will help a lot because after finishing our program we obtain a certificate as certified management accountant. Also, the certificate is approved by many countries in Europe which makes it easier to find a job than if I would’ve graduated from other universities in which the certificate is not approved abroad. Also, it's approved in many countries in Africa and Asia which is very good for future careers.

What is your advice for prospective students, and will you recommend HSE for your friends?

So, my advice for prospective students is to always be well prepared and stick to the deadlines because it's not easy to deal with the deadlines here. It will be a total mess if you are lazy and wait till the very last minute. Also for some programs, not all, are taught in Russian which is a great opportunity to really deepen your knowledge of Russian habits and traditions and improve your language. From my point of view, my advice for people who will study in English is to be brave and make friends by being friendly, bold and a little bit crazy. I would hope the university could improve its academic system for the whole subjects to have the same grading system with the same criteria with specific dates for deadlines and exams set from day one.

Are you planning to do a masters if yes in HSE or not? If not, why not?

Yes, I'm planning to do my masters. I have applied here, and I have applied in many other universities in Europe but I think I would prefer Europe because the life there is so different with many opportunities for work. It is not easy to find a job in Russia if you are an international student, especially because of the language barrier that makes culture shock much stronger and harder for us.

You mentioned culture shocks, can you please tell me more about the biggest ones you experienced in the beginning of your stay in Russia, and how did they change, if they ever did?

So, we're talking about culture shock. When I first arrived in Russia it wasn't that easy to adapt here because of the different culture and different traditions but moving on day by day it was getting better by having some friends and by the help of them. But my first real culture shock, which is kind of funny, would be that Russian people do not smile at each other in the streets. It was so weird because I smile when I lock eyes with someone and then they just look at me like I am insane, but I am used to it now.  And more culture shocks, I would say for sure traditions in general are very different than in my country and arab countries but adapting with them and just accepting the difference is good I think because it makes you more open minded.

What recommendations for university could you give to help newcomers and what advice would you give to prospective students?

So, one of my best recommendations for the university is to incorporate something like my first university did, psychology as a subject and the first month was just talking about culture shocks and how to adapt here as well as teach the young generation how to manage life and stress because many of them don't know a lot about this, they are just facing this new experience without understanding what is really happening. So maybe introducing the city and introducing the country for them. Also, my advice for the prospective student is to be confident and to be bold just and don't waste a lot of time being negative because your university years are the best in your life so just enjoy your time.

Let’s talk about the social life at HSE, both in the university as well as in the dorms. What does it look like for you, and do you think it is better to live in dorms to increase your social life?

 So, if we're talking about social life, when you move to a different city, I think for university students it's very good to stay in dorms because it helps you to know a lot of people maybe from different majors which opens for you like a lot of different opportunities to be make friends and to get to know a lot of people with different mindsets, not just your university classmates. You need to get involved with many people and know as many people as you can to build a real social base. My social life in the dormitory, I could say that a lot of people here are friendly, they always help each other. When I first came here, I did not know everyone, so I was just trying to get to know people on a slow pace but with time people started to introduce me to the people they know so it became much more familiar, so I feel home now. Talking about university life I could say it's pretty easy for me because my main problem is the language barrier, but my program is mainly in English and everyone speaks great English so it's easy for us to communicate with each other.

Let’s summarize your whole experience in Russia after 4 years. What are the best and the worst lessons you learned while in Russia?

So, if I must summarize the whole experience in Russia, I think the main idea was the exposure to a different culture which opens your horizons and opens your mind more. It makes you a different person. I could say I was a very different person as it was not easy to challenge myself and come out of my comfort zone. The person I am today is totally different from the Omar I was four years ago and even from the one I was two years before I joined HSE, it makes me totally different especially from the academic perspective. Talking about the worst lesson, I honestly do not think there is any bad lessons you could learn in life, it's all experience, and all experience is good but maybe a bad habit I acquired is smoking much more because I am exposed to a lot of smokers in Russia and maybe drinking some vodka because we are in Russia, the mother of vodka. But everything in moderation is alright, so I do not see any problem.

Thhank you, Omar!

Yasmina Kouweik